Monday, December 28, 2020

Anonymous Asks (125)

“Did Lot really have sex with his daughters?”

It may surprise you to find that Abraham’s nephew Lot is mentioned a grand total of 111 times in the Bible. That’s not a lot compared to David’s 1,100 or Abraham’s 293, but it’s considerably more than Elijah, Elisha or Daniel, all of whom have major Old Testament roles.

All the same, Lot is more of what we might call a “supporting actor” than a main character. He is best known for following his uncle Abraham on his quest for a city with foundations whose designer and builder is God. But if Lot is known more for being a follower than a leader, at least he was following a spiritual giant on a God-directed mission.

So did this godly man have sex with his daughters? Well, yes, he did.

A Slight Clarification

There really isn’t much getting around it, though if we are going to be scriptural about it, we should probably note that it was really more a case of Lot’s daughters having sex with their father than Lot having sex with them. Lot was drunk as a skunk, and scripture is unambiguous that Lot had no idea what he was doing during either sexual encounter: the writer of Genesis notes of both events that Lot “did not know when she lay down or when she arose”.

Moreover, this was a very calculated thing. Lot’s daughters were not little children but virgins of marriageable age. They didn’t just come across their father in an inebriated state and take advantage of the opportunity; they plotted together to make it happen. The firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” These were acts of desperation. Terrified by the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, their father had taken them far away from civilization and was living with them in a cave. The two young women may have genuinely doubted there was anyone else left alive.

No Excuses, But ...

Now, none of that excuses Lot, and the Bible makes no excuses for his conduct, regardless of the fact that he was manipulated by his loved ones. But Lot was not the first person in history to abuse alcohol and find out later that he had done a few bad things he couldn’t remember. There is probably a lesson for us in that.

There is also a lesson in the fact that God has not allowed a single incident, however distasteful, to define Lot for us. Not only did Lot follow his uncle to Canaan in obedience to God, but he also set a good example for the brazen unbelievers in Sodom. Though old enough to be married, Lot’s daughters were still virgins when Sodom was destroyed, which suggests Lot’s family had not adopted the loose sexual morals of the people around them. Lot’s wealth probably made marriage into his family a desirable prospect, and the book of Genesis describes him “sitting in the gate” of Sodom, which is where the respected elders of the community would gather. It’s also evident the locals resented Lot’s piety, as is common among those who mistake righteousness for self-righteousness. Further, while the men of Sodom are condemned in Ezekiel for their failures of charity, Lot distinguished himself by offering shelter to travelers, though he had no idea who they were, and tried to protect his guests at all costs despite the risk to himself and his family.

New Testament Commentary

But if none of that convinces us what kind of person Lot was characteristically, the Holy Spirit gives us a little New Testament commentary on that subject through the apostle Peter:
“... righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard) ...”
According to scripture, Lot was a righteous man, and not only refused to partake in the evil deeds of the men and women around him, but was grieved and distressed by them.

So then, like many other believing men and women in scripture (and in our world today), Lot made a serious mistake that had lasting consequences, and scripture records it unflinchingly and without approval. Nevertheless, there remain 109 times Lot’s name is mentioned in scripture that have nothing to do with this sad incident. We should not allow two nights of dissipation to define the man for us.

After all, God didn’t.

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